Safer grilling methods might cut cancer risk

Safer grilling methods might cut cancer risk
Expert offers tips for healthier outdoor cooking.

(HealthDay) -- A few simple changes in how people grill outdoors, such as avoiding too much beef or processed meats and not charring foods, can aid in cancer prevention, according to an expert.

"Two aspects of the traditional American cookout, what you grill and how you grill it, can potentially raise ," Alice Bender, a dietitian with the American Institute for Cancer Research, said in an institute news release. "Diets that feature big portions of red and have been shown to make colorectal cancer more likely. Evidence that grilling itself is a risk factor is less strong, but it only makes sense to take some easy cancer-protective precautions," she added.

One way to help prevent cancer is to avoid overcooking foods on the grill, Bender said. Charring, she explained, results in the formation of cancer-causing compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and (PAHs).

Bender offered four other ways to grill more safely:

  • Add color (but not red meat). By cutting back on and grilling a wider variety of colorful , people will increase their intake of phytochemicals. These naturally occurring compounds found in plants offer protection against cancer, Bender said. She suggested grilling vegetables like asparagus, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant and corn on the cob, which can be grilled whole, in chunks or in a basket. When grilling fruits, she noted, brush them with olive oil so they won't stick. Bender added that fruits should be grilled a day or two before they are completely ripe so they retain their texture.
  • Mix it up. Opt for chicken or fish instead of hamburgers or hotdogs.
  • Marinate. Marinating meat reduces the formation of HCAs, Bender advised. Marinating meats in seasoned vinegar or lemon juice for even just 30 minutes can be beneficial, she noted.
  • Pre-cook (partially). Pre-cooking meat will reduce the amount of time it spends exposed to high heat on the grill and reduce the formation of HCAs. Bender cautioned that partially pre-cooked meats should be transferred from the kitchen to the grill right away.
  • Cook slowly. By grilling meats slowly at a lower heat, they are less likely to burn or char. Bender said this will reduce the amount of HCAs and PAHs that end up on people's plates.
Bender added that visible fat should be trimmed off meats to avoid high flames or flare-ups, and that any charred portions of meat should also be cut off.

More information: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has more about grilling safety.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Probing Question: Is grilling dangerous to your health?

Jul 16, 2009

For many people, summer festivities would be terribly un-festive without the sizzle, the smoke, and the tantalizing smell of meat being barbecued. In the summer, many gatherings revolve around the grill, and ...

Charred meat may increase risk of pancreatic cancer

Apr 21, 2009

Meat cooked at high temperatures to the point of burning and charring may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer, according to data presented at the American Association for Cancer Research 100th Annual Meeting 2009.

Certain meat components may increase bladder cancer risk

Aug 02, 2010

A new study suggests that consuming specific compounds in meat related to processing methods may be associated with an increased risk of developing bladder cancer. Published early online in Cancer, a peer-reviewed journa ...

Recommended for you

Study reveals state of crisis in Canadian foster care system

Oct 24, 2014

A new study of foster care in Canada led by a researcher at Western University reveals a shrinking number of foster care providers are available across the country to care for a growing number of children with increasingly ...

Researchers prove the benefits of persimmons for diet

Oct 24, 2014

Alba Mir and Ana Domingo, researchers from the Department of Analytical Chemistry of the University of Valencia, under the supervision of professors Miguel de la Guardia and Maria Luisa Cervera, from the same department, ...

Hand blenders used for cooking can emit persistent chemicals

Oct 24, 2014

Eight out of twelve tested models of hand blenders are leaking chlorinated paraffins when used according to the suppliers' instructions. This is revealed in a report from Stockholm University where researchers analyzed a ...

User comments